– By Florence Udoh
Some people do not like drinking water, probably because it does not really tickle their taste buds; or because they are completely ignorant of its health benefits. Water is the body’s most essential tonic. In other words, it is the single most important nutrient for our bodies.
A lot of people put their minds and bodies under unnecessary stress and become ill, simply because they do not drink enough water. Most times, people wait until they are thirsty or have a dry mouth before taking water, thereby subjecting themselves to a form of dehydration. It may however interest you to know that unintentional dehydration sometimes leads to illnesses and degenerative diseases that could easily have been prevented simply by drinking plenty of water.
Contents of Water
According to scientists, there are two types of water: spring water and mineral water. Spring water is natural water collected directly from its source. Mineral water emerges from under the ground, then flows over rocks before it is collected, resulting in a higher content of various minerals.
Different brands of spring and mineral waters have differing amounts of minerals depending on their source. In choosing the right type of water, aim for pH balance. Distilled water is too acidic and alkaline water is too alkaline. The ideal pH of water should be between 6.5 to 7.5, which is neutral. Studies have shown that spring water is in this ideal range. It is one of the healthiest types of water on the planet because it is “living water”. Spring water has essential minerals and nutrients like magnesium, potassium, sodium, selenium, etc., which are important for nearly every function of the human body.
Comforts of Water
Water aids maintenance of a healthy body weight. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that “drinking water (about 17oz) increases metabolic rate by 30 per cent in healthy men and women.” Water suppresses hunger and aids in digestion. The gastrointestinal tract requires lots of hydration to keep things flowing smoothly and prevent constipation. The skin regulates water by perspiration and absorbs lots of water by acting as a protective layer.
Water aids decrease muscle and joint inflammation by keeping joints strong, healthy and lubricated. The muscles produce lots of traction when they are in motion. They require lots of hydration to function smoothly. Water also detoxifies the body naturally. Most of the toxins produced or accumulated in the body is carried through cells by water fluids and flushed out. Water protects our organs, keeps our tissues moist and dissolves minerals and other nutrients to make them accessible to the body.
Studies have also shown that, “in case of headaches and migraine problem, the first thing to do is to drink plenty of water”. They have also shown that “staying hydrated can reduce risk of colon cancer, bladder cancer, breast cancer and heart attacks”.
Consumption of Water
A question most people ask regarding water intake is: how much water should I drink daily? Knowing more about your body’s need for fluids will help you estimate how much water to drink each day, depending on the general climate, personal lifestyle, etc. If you are in a hot climate or engaging in strenuous activity, it is advisable to increase your water intake as needed. As you age, your thirst mechanism works less efficiently, so older adults need to pay more attention to the colour of their urine, to see if their water intake is adequate.
Some studies have shown that “to determine how much water your body needs, you need to measure your body weight (in pounds) and divide it by two. That is how much ounces of water you need a day unless you have congested heart failure or kidney failure, in which case you should consult a doctor.”
Caution with Water
In a chat with Pharmanews, a medical doctor with May Hospital, Ilasa, Lagos, Dr (Mrs) Rose Onakayo, explained that a lot of people drink excessive water during meal times without knowing its health implications. Drinking too much water with meals, she said, washes away the hydrochloric acid, digestive juices and enzymes in the stomach and intestines, and also slows down digestion.
So, aim to drink water about 15 to 20 minutes before you eat, and then try not to drink too much water until about 30 minutes to an hour after you have finished your meal.
Drinking cold water with meals can also slow down digestion process and may cause cramping. Always bear in mind that you do not consume all the water you need in liquid forms; water can also be consumed in other forms like in fruits and vegetables and some foods.
To encourage adequate consumption of water for those who do not like its taste, it is advisable to put some lemon slices in water, to enhance its taste.
In general, plenty water is the key to a longer, healthier, and more vigorous life; making water your everyday drink saves a lot of money in the long run, because you will be healthy and will not need to go to hospital often. So, always take along with you a fresh bottle of water anywhere you go.